"As for Maidenhead, the conga (which was amusing) aside, quite a strange bunch really – some the oddest chants I've ever heard at a football match" ~ localboy86, Amber Planet forum, 26th April 2015

Sunday 23 August 2015

Bath (A) & Sutton (H) ~ Points Dropped

^^^ My thoughts on our customary defeat to Bath City at Twerton can be found on the Conference South Nomads forum. Basically, a draw would've been the fair result, although Carl Pentney had saves to make and Steve Phillips didn't. Anyway, on to Saturday; the visit of Sutton United and the Gandermonium boys ... 

^^^ Despite a hellish Wednesday night at Trashton Gate (rounded off, rather appropriately, by a burst tyre on the way home), Macleod (M) wanted to watch the Leeds game and so we headed to Bar Sport. Much laughter at the plastic Mancs, as the other MUFC laboured at Old Trafford. The Revisionist Craft Lager, meanwhile, was pretty good.

^^^ The Vanarama Club. 
See website for terms & conditions

^^^ First half match action. Maidenhead's start was as hot as the sunshine and Dave Tarpey slotted home to give us a well-deserved lead. We looked comfortable but ex-Woking keeper Ross Worner, in the Sutton goal, wasn't overworked. Simon Downer, incidentally, was out injured. Who'd have thunk it?!

^^^ The bin remained on the correct side of the fence. Threat of lifetime ban averted.

^^^ 'Sutton, give us a song!'. Shortly after Mr A. Sutton ('A' for Adult?), Mick, Craig and I had walked into the bar, just before half time, the away fans could be heard cheering an equaliser; former Humpton man Craig Dundas with the goal. Two games in a row now, in which we've conceded immediately prior to the break.

^^^ Good news, though, that this is back. 

^^^ Macleod (P) with her Dad at the end of an uneventful second half. I think that the Magpies were the better side but, once again, didn't really do enough in the final third. What we wouldn't give for a Garry Attrell, a Barry Rake, or a Matty Glynn. Hey ho. The heat didn't help things, TBF, and there were still plenty of positives.

^^^ Apparently one of the away supporters was thrown out, during the second half, for stickering. Really?! Actually, that does sound like Maidenhead! Merthyr Tydfil thug punches Willie T in the face ... Nothing. Dorchester fans let off flares and throw bins ... Shrug of the shoulders. Sutton sticker the toilets ... GET OUT!

^^^ Post-match beers, with the travelling Gandermonium hordes, in the Bear and then the Greyhound. Also the Bell (#memorykindahazy). Top lads. Hopefully former Exeter City striker Stuart Fleetwood - pictured above? - can inspire their team to a successful season.

Nb. Sutton was my fourth Maidenhead game of the current campaign (only missed Gosport). My fourth Maidenhead game of last season? Farnborough away in the Trophy … on 12th January! 

Time for a break.

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Bishop's StortFOURd

I wasn't planning on writing a blog post, but several people suggested that the performance deserved one. A bit of a cheat, this, but hey ho ...

^^^ Have I mentioned my dislike for our Slough Town-esque yellow and blue away kit? I have, many times? Good.

^^^ Ooh, and that's a bad miss! (Reid's was a bad one; an absolute sitter more akin to when Rocky 'blasted over from six yards with the goal at his mercy' vs WSM at York Road in December 2008, but I'll never tire of linking to the short video of that hilarious free kick vs Thurrock.)

^^^ It was slippery but, regardless, a night that Elvijs Putnins Tom Lovelock will want to forget.

^^^ Me, Mr Logic, Payney, Rainey, Scouse Mick, Steve H, Stuart; we all hurried across, during the interval, to see if the rumours were true. And they were. Real ales - and other refreshments - are now sold on the railwayside of the ground! Disabled/ female toilets? Pah! Priorities, people. "That black curtain [separating the pint glasses from the pin badges] looks like something you'd see in a Soho club," said Stuart, struggling to stifle laughter. "I'll take your word for it," said I. The Black Curtain; got a certain ring to it, though, don't ya think?? (I'm not expecting CSG to answer that, BTW, at least not positively!)

^^^ Bonus points if he deliberately skipped the track, when it started playing again, after the game. For it was no longer 2-0. #tradition

^^^ The win was never in much doubt but we didn't look as solid, at the back, as we had against Eastbourne.

^^^ Drax who? That, I suspect, is what the York Road faithful will be asking after this performance. Perhaps the Chairman, for one, misses him? According to a feature in the programme, CWKHF's favourite season watching Maidenhead United so far came in 2008/09 when - under Drax of course - 'we finished sixth in the National League [sic] South'. Anyone else share fond memories of that particular campaign? No? Hardly surprising. The Maidenhead United bible - 'One For Sorrow, Two For Joy' - summarises as follows:

'From then [November] on the Magpies never seriously threatened to secure a play-off place ... there was disappointment in every Cup competition. In the FA Cup the Magpies lost 2-1 at [lower division] Bashley. In the FA Trophy, Maidenhead were also knocked out at the first time of asking by [lower division] Chesham United 4-2 at York Road ... the Magpies lost 1-0 to [lower division] Windsor & Eton at home in the semi-final [of the County Cup] and missed out on any chance of silverware'. 

Well, yeah, but apart from all that ... 


Also from the same feature: Who is your favourite Maidenhead United player of all time? 

'I have to say Dave Harrison as we are neighbours in Cookham - he tells me he was an absolute legend!' 

Was? Is. Harry - the only man, I believe, to wear every number (1 through 11) for the Magpies in first team action - was at the game last night; polite as ever, he asked how I was as he passed the Bell End at half time. No sign, though, of Craig O'Connor. Macleod (M) and I had bumped into our former striker, the Monday before last, during 6-a-side at Cox Green School; COC said that he was back from Dubai, for a few weeks, and hoped to get himself down to York Road. Plenty of names (and titles: Director of Community Development, Director of Operations, Magpies In The Community Officer [x4], Photographer & Facebook Editor, Videographer, Website & Twitter Editor, Youth Team Goalkeeper Coach etc., etc.) listed in the 'who's who' section of the programme, meanwhile, but 'John Urry' was conspicuous by its absence. I'd heard that John - another bona fide MUFC legend - had made/ was making a full and swift recovery from recent illness. I hope my information is accurate.

^^^ An assured finish from the impressive Wright. In the '2015-2016 Thoughts and predictions' thread, on the Conference South Nomads forum, I wrote that Dave Tarpey would probably be our top scorer. I'd like to change my answer ...

^^^ ... then again, maybe I'll stick with Tarps!

^^^ I jest. About ELF (not Reg). Obvs.

^^^ Best goal at York Road in a long time. Yes, even better than David Rogalski's superb strike vs Torquay United in the FA Youth Cup. Scouse - Pink Floyd aficionado that he is - noted that 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' was written in tribute to Syd Barrett, not by Syd Barrett. I have therefore challenged Mick to come up with a Sam Barratt chant based upon a Syd Barrett original. 'Gigolo Aunt', perhaps?

^^^ Just in case Dudley Junior's lawyers are reading this, I'd like to clarify that those words were not spoken by me!

^^^ Early doors but it's safe to say that we've made a very promising start, at the end of the day. Long may it continue. At the end of the day. 


Monday 10 August 2015

Away Day Diary: Eastbourne Borough 1-2 Maidenhead United (08/08/15)

^^^ The first competitive game of Alan Devonshire's second spell as Maidenhead United manager would, the fixture computer abacus had decided, take place at Eastbourne Borough. (Rather apt, bearing in mind that the town was developed, in 1859, by the Duke of Devonshire.) With the Macleods (C + M + P) and Craig in Berlin for the beer festival, I offered the wife a weekend away on the East Sussex coast. She didn't need much persuading. After mowing our front and back lawns (NOT a euphemism) in the hot morning sunshine, I checked Google Maps for traffic news before our imminent departure. And a good job that I did; accidents on the M4 and the M25 meant that it was the A-roads for us #scenicroute (I insisted on a minute's silence as we passed H*rsh@m.) However, we couldn't escape heavy traffic on the A27 east of Lewes and reached the ground just after 3pm - more than three hours after leaving home. Fortunately, we weren't the only ones to endure a difficult journey. Like Wealdstone at Bath, Maidenhead's team coach arrived late, and the kick-off delayed.

^^^ The weather was glorious. Bobble hats required for fashion purposes only!

^^^ First-half match action. Even contest. The Magpies looked good in more than one sense. I liked the new shirts - with thick black stripes down the sides - while the spine of the team is strong: Carl Pentney assured in goal (not least with the ball at his feet); I very much doubt that there is a better central defensive partnership in the division than Dean Inman and Alan Massey (I was particularly impressed with the former); James Mulley and Ryan Upward were tigerish without the ball - and tidy with it - in midfield; and Jake Reid a powerful focal point in attack. Ben Wright - who reminded me a bit of Billy Cove - twice went close, while the usually lethal Dave Tarpey should have done much better with a shot that nearly went out for a throw. Wright, rather bizarrely, took the odd corner, and from one of these, Josh Huggins - head bandaged - skied the ball when he should have hit the target. It wasn't all one-way traffic, though, with the home side's Nathan Collier - reminiscent of Abdul Osman in playing style and physical appearance - impressive in midfield. Eastbourne's #10 (Nathaniel Pinney) should also get a mention: I'll be AMAZED if I see a chunkier player in the Conference South this season. "He's overdone it on the Domino's Pizza," deadpanned the wife. 0-0 at the break.

^^^ Anti-drums at football? There was a whole troupe of drummers on the pitch at halftime! Most, if not all, wearing kilts of some description. As bizarre and noisy as the sunshine was hazy.

^^^ The wife pointed out that bins were attached to the stand - an ingenious idea that the powers-that-be should adopt at York Road to prevent DESPICABLE HOOLIGANS from throwing the blue plastic variety onto the pitch.

^^^ Second-half match action. The home side took the lead, with a penalty, after 53 mins. The Magpies were level soon afterwards when Ben Wright thumped home from the spot ("Where's our goal music?" enquired the away support before mimicking the tune that had blasted out on the PA just minutes earlier). The award seemed soft to me (and the wife): Huggins challenged for the ball with a defender, and both had their feet up. When the whistle blew, I assumed that the referee had given a foul against Huggins (who didn't seem to be his favourite person). Hey ho. Win some, lose some. Maidenhead should definitely have had another penalty a while later when Reid was impeded by a defender when trying to latch onto a through ball. The offending touch was slight - and the subsequent dive rather theatrical (you'd have to go some to knock Reid over) - but it was still a foul. More so, I'd argue, than the 50/50 challenge on Huggins! The game remained tight, but the Magpies were beginning to gain the upper hand. Sam Barratt replaced Tarpey (the Tannoy announcer as inept as the match officials: "I didn't see who came off, but number 15 replaced him") and made some penetrating runs down the left wing; Mark Nisbet replaced Huggins and snapped into tackles in midfield; Gavin James - great to see him back in a Magpies shirt, after his double leg break at Dorchester in March 2009 - replaced Wright and nearly put us ahead after a magical bit of skill. "We're gonna nick this," I said to the wife, just before Reid returned a half clearance with interest ...

^^^ ... to spark delirious celebrations.

^^^ Mr Logic (I think) started up 'Alan Devonshire's Black & White Army'. The popular chant continued throughout the remaining few minutes of the 90 - plus time added on - and, whilst sounding a little ring-rusty, it was certainly good to hear it. "I feel like I've gone back in time," said the wife. "My first Maidenhead away game in goodness knows how many years, and Alan Devonshire's Black & White Army is being sung!". It didn't escape my attention that Dev was straight on the pitch, at the final whistle, gesturing for the players to acknowledge the fans. Which, to a man, they did. Drax, take note. It bodes well that the group already seem bonded. The 'BAND OF BROTHERS BRING IN NEW ERA' headline from the sports section of my Sunday paper could seemingly refer to Maidenhead United as to the England cricket team. Anyway, the attendance was 551, most of whom cannot complain about the result.

^^^ The delayed kick-off put paid to plans for a post-match pint in the clubhouse. Instead, Stef, Rainey, Logic, Bob P, etc., caught taxis into town (ahead of their 6pm train). We dropped Les at the station - he pointed out that this was the first lift I'd ever given him; he ferried me about for years during school and university - before check-in. #hotelroomselfie

^^^ A short walk along the promenade to the pier. We had a drink in the predictably naff bar at the end. Tattoos, shop mobility scooters, and heavy accents (incl. Cockney and French) were aplenty.

^^^ We watched the sunset from the rear of the Buccaneer. Close to our hotel and highly recommended by my parents (my Mum has been a regular visitor to Eastbourne over the years to watch the international tennis tournament). The bespectacled barmaid took an age to extract the dregs from the Everards Tiger pump, filling up three-quarters of a pint. "This OK?" she asked. "Only if you charge me for a half," I replied. "I can't do that," she claimed. "PINT of something else, then, please". I would fall asleep - during Match of the Day - after an Italian meal in a no-frills restaurant on the bustling Carlisle Road and another drink back in the (somewhat chaotic) hotel bar. It had been a long and tiring day, but a good one.

^^^ Sunday morning sunshine stroll. Devonshire's Place? Maidenhead United. And he's back.

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Away Day (sort of) Diary: Eastleigh 0-2 Partick Thistle (14/07/15)

Maidenhead United's standout pre-season fixture this summer - at least as far as Macleod (M) and I were concerned - was Wingate & Finchley away: a chance to run the rule over one of their new signings - ex-Magpie youngster Lee Barney - and, perhaps more importantly, tick off another ground (#notgroundhoppers). Imagine our DISGUST upon learning that the fixture was at Bisham Abbey. 

Nae bother! Eastleigh vs Partick Thistle, arranged for the same night, was a more than adequate replacement. How so? 

1. We have a soft spot for the Jags (generally) and their red and yellow striped shirts (specifically)
2. It was high time that Macleod (M) managed to take in a football match at Eastleigh

Allow me to elaborate …

^^^ Brian (above, sans headgear, en route to Gosport Borough in September 2013) and Paddy - both Maidenhead United home and away regulars during the 'Born & Bred' years - are Partick Thistle fans. I presume the former - partial to lusty, post-match singalongs in the pub - introduced 'Soggy Sombrero' to the York Road terraces. It has proved immensely popular - I remember one woman I'd never seen before coming to the Canal End to request that we sing it! (We start 'My girlfriend Belinda' - seemingly incorrect: it should be 'My sister Belinda' - and end with repeated chants of 'THE THISTLE'.) 

^^^ Fanfreundschaft was enhanced when a group of Partick fans came down to York Road for our pre-season friendly with Hayes & Yeading in the summer of 2009. Some of them were pictured (above) post-match in the Anchor. Did they wear their Thistle replica shirts? Nope! Believe it or not, they were wearing Maidenhead United shirts. In fact, the Magpies fan in this photo - Bobby P - is wearing a Jags top!

^^^ Maidenhead United's away kit, for a time, was all blue. M@rl*w blue. Imagine that! Akin to Celtic having a blue away kit. Or Aston Villa. Or Liverpool. Ridiculous. Ahead of the 2004/05 season, some supporters purchased a red and yellow kit, a la Partick Thistle, with MUSA emblazoned across the front. (Apparently, the league wouldn't allow for individual shirt sponsors). I thought it was brilliant. Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, the powers that be soon supplanted it with an inexplicable green and yellow design. Yuk! #awaykitabominations It is my understanding that the original constitution of the amalgamated football club stated the colours were to be black and white, with red. Therefore it was apt that red once again became our away colour for the (ultimately successful) season in the Southern League. Lamentably, we have since changed to yellow and blue. Slough Town colours. Would Oxford United's rivals - Swindon? - wear yellow and blue? More fool them, if so. Back to square one, methinks, and so time to revive the Thistle kit! I'd buy it ... particularly as the replica version I've got was already MUCH too large for me when I was more than a stone heavier! #tent

^^^ The joke was that Macleod (M) had never seen a football game at Eastleigh FC, despite having played there himself. It wasn't for a complete lack of trying. The above photos are from LCG Dave's stag do in February 2014. The plan was to train it down to Southampton and watch the lunchtime kick-off - Liverpool vs Arsenal - on TV. Then make our way over to Eastleigh for their match-up with Berkshire's finest (Maidenhead United, obvs, although funnily enough, there were some Reading FC fans on the stag). Despite glorious sunshine come 3pm, heavy rainfall in the preceding days meant the Conference South fixture was postponed long before the end of Arsenal's embarrassing capitulation. Instead, we would spend the afternoon watching Southampton vs Hull City - live on Bulgarian TV - in a pub not far from St Mary's. I think that the Reading fans were particularly disappointed by the postponement.

^^^  I'd already seen football at Eastleigh. More than one game. Although, our 0-0 draw there in February 2009 sticks in the memory … for all the wrong reasons! THE dullest game I've ever had the misfortune to witness. (We were stone-cold sober, which certainly didn't help!) Macleod (C)'s face, above, rather sums it up. He reckons, though, that he's since seen a worse game. Guess where? Firhill, home of the Jags! Corporate hospitality at Partick Thistle vs Greenock Morton to celebrate Paddy's 50th birthday in November 2010. Macleod (M), who was also there, summarises the game as follows: 'Goals nil. Entertainment nil. Excitement nil. Goalmouth action nil. Skill nil. Corners … probably nil. Throw-ins … possibly a couple'. He wasn't at the Eastleigh bore draw. (Banned?) However, despite never having seen a football game at the Silverlake Stadium …

^^^ ... he had played there himself, fronting Ye Gods! at the Solent Cougars Scooter Rally on 28th July 2007, which included camping at the ground. We had enjoyed a legendary night out in Plymouth earlier that month, following our pre-season friendly with Jim Parsons' Plymouth Parkway. Remarkably little or no hangover the next day, despite drinking through the night (hitting Union Street - after a visit to their Smokey Joe's ... and Bobby P mistaking a police car for a taxi! - gone 4am). The post- Scooter Rally hangover more than compensated, however, as it was one of the worst of my life (so far). I remember all sitting with our heads in our hands at a McDonald's on the way home. 14th July 2015 - Eastleigh vs Partick Thistle (Captain? Ex-Magpie Abdul Osman) - would, coincidentally, mark precisely eight years since that night in Plymouth. #writteninthestars

^^^ Macleod (M) picked me up from the office. He was also giving a lift to Steve H and Brian. Topics of conversation on the journey down the M3 included the following Fs:
  • Fabian Delph (Steve H was pleased that the Villa captain had turned down Man City; I thought it showed a distinct lack of ambition and that the midfielder should reconsider ... )
  • Facebook (Brian Connor - over 400 appearances in a Maidenhead United shirt; #6 on the all-time list - is in his cover photo on the social media site, pictured playing for Slough Town! "I'm a legend for both clubs," writes the man himself)
  • Fakestock (a good day, according to Murdo and Steve H, despite no bar outside and a predictably congested Stripes running out of real ales)
  • Farce (does anyone know why the previous MUSA chairman has gone? Perhaps his infamous lack of punctuality? If so, it's somewhat ironic his replacement got elected despite not being present at the Annual General Meeting!)
  • Females (Maidenhead United Ladies needed a new manager at the time, with KSG favourite Kerthney Carty linked to the job. Since confirmed! #potentialawayday)
  • Ferdi (ex-Magpie midfielder Chris 'cousin of Rio' Ferdinand has joined the coaching staff, of ex-Magpie striker Neville Roach, at Combined Counties League Division One side Eversley & California #potentialawayday)
  • Fixtures (my 'glass half empty' 2015 low lights include Bath City and Concord Rangers away in midweek, Whitehawk away whilst I'm on holiday, and Maidstone away - earmarked as a potential Jolly Boy's Outing - coinciding with an early round of the FA Cup)
  • Fuckers (Shamesburys)
Anyway, Eastleigh's ground has changed significantly - almost beyond belief. Not least the stand behind the goal, opposite the clubhouse. TBF, it looks good, although how permanent remains open to some debate ...

^^^ Plenty of time for pre-match beers. The away supporters were setting the pace; I was in danger of being 'blootered' before kick-off! Many more Thistle fans than I was expecting; red and yellow everywhere! A mixture of hooped and striped shirts. I was surprised to learn that the former is more traditional. 

^^^ First-half match action. Now, we've seen a few games in Scotland (mainly East Stirlingshire, admittedly), and the quality has always underwhelmed. As such - and even allowing for the fact that the SPL starts earlier, so Partick were presumably further along in pre-season - I wasn't expecting the Scots to completely outclass Eastleigh as they did in the first 35 mins or so. The home side barely had a kick. Thistle took the lead shortly after I'd remortgaged my house to buy a burger (not bad, TBF). Abdul started the move. Obvs. #learntthatatmaidenhead The Jags' number 7 - new signing David Amoo - was the best player on the pitch, and it was 0-2 on the half-hour when his right-wing corner was headed in by a 'big fucking Belgian' (the Mertesacker-esque - in a good way - Frederic Frans). James Constable threatened for the Spitfires just before the break, but Ben Strevens couldn't gain control in midfield; Yemi Odubade could only be cheered by the fact that, for once, he wasn't the tiniest player on the pitch! Brian had earlier lamented the recent loss of some of Thistle's best players - including their keeper to Ross County, outstanding wing-back Stephen O'Donnell to Luton Town, and loanee striker Lyle Taylor - but Callum Booth and Sean Welsh remain, and both also impressed. The aim is to avoid relegation. On this evidence, they will.

^^^ Half-time. While Brian, Steve H and I retreated to the bar. I happily discovered that Gav Villa had become a father to a baby girl and was ridiculed for asking what Brian would like to drink (in my defence, Fosters wasn't available!). Meanwhile, Macleod (M) toured the ground. Does anyone recognise these seats?!

^^^ One steward was an absolute spit of Mark Steward. Another assumed that I was Scottish and spoke to me at length about his uncle - Bob Laird - having written a book on Third Lanark.

^^^ York Road-esque. Well, one of the above photos!

^^^ After (1) an 'interesting' conversation with a tattooed, flat cap-wearing Greenock Morton/ Celtic 2CW and (2) having 'IN-GER-LUND, IN-GER-LUND, IN-GER-LUND' chanted at us by the handful of vocal home supporters in the stand (above), Steve H and I each enjoyed an ice cream at the start of the second half ... as the rain got heavier!

^^^ Second-half match action. Rather yawn-inducing. Wholesale changes resulted in typical pre-season fare. Eastleigh substitute Josh Payne - whose generosity, in January, enabled the wife and me to see Woking vs Bristol Rovers for free - showed some silky skills, whilst the Spitfires #20 (Jack Masterton) looked about twelve. 679 were there. Not much else to note. I took to Twitter to pass the time ...

^^^ If my information is incorrect, then I will, of course, apologise … as the Chairman did to me once, via Direct Message on the club forum:

'Your access will be removed if you keep opening new accounts and posting previously removed material'

'I apologise in this case for wrongly accusing you'

(The Magpie Webmistress was - quite obviously - guilty, not me; I didn't sign up for the soon-to-be register-to-view forum, in any case, and instead started this blog.)

I also recall when Mark Steward felt the need to apologise. It came to light that MUSA money - specifically donated to repair a hole in the old stand roof - got spent on something/ someone else. (MS nailed down a bit of wood and claimed he'd paid a local handyman to do the work before admitting the truth when unable to provide an invoice or receipt. #botchjob)

I can't help myself?! Pot meet kettle.

^^^ Thistle goalscorer Frederic 'big fucking Belgian' Frans signing autographs for the Frans fans. Decent shot, also, of the now-infamous Kingsley.

^^^ Abdul was, near enough, the last Thistle player into the bar. When he finally appeared, though, he was straight over for a photo (inadvertently doing a Tardif/ Tiryaki: acknowledging the fans of his former team before those of his current). 'What the ... ' he mouthed, shaking his head, after realising that my red and yellow striped shirt was Maidenhead United. 'Is Carl Taylor still there?' LOLz. A good lad and a good player (much taller than I remembered, with added muscles). I wish him all the very best.

^^^ Brian with Thistle manager Alan Archibald. 
< insert AA joke here > 

^^^ As we headed for the car, a member of the Jags management staff, walking behind us, belatedly realised that he was going in the wrong direction (away from the team coach). 'Where are you staying?' asked Macleod (M). 'You can have a lift'. 'Bisham Abbey,' came the reply. Less than 15 mins drive from York Road! We laughed. Apparently, PTFC had initially intended another PSF down south and tentatively enquired whether Maidenhead fancied a game. Alas, we were already committed to hosting Barnet - zzz - on Saturday 18th. A real shame. Maybe next year. Soggy Sombrero would definitely get an airing!